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For as long as I can remember, I've framed pictures in my mind and put words down on paper. As I walk by something that catches my eye, I mentally compose a picture. My first camera was a Kodak C110 that I bought in elementary school with babysitting money. My first SLR, a Pentax ME Super, was a Christmas gift from my parents when I was 17, a high-school senior. I was thrilled, though the amount of film I used didn't thrill them so much. I carried my love of photography and writing into college, attending the University of California, San Diego. At UCSD, I obtained a BA in Visual Arts and Communications with a specialization in photography. I spent hours upon blissful hours in the darkroom watching my images come to life. While finishing up my last couple of years of college, I traded in my real-estate admin job for a spot on the chase crew of one of the local hot-air ballooning companies. I put on many hats as that job expanded into additional office-receptionist and event-planning duties. Being on the chase crew involved heavy lifting, dirt, dust, and the occasional rattlesnake in the field (thank goodness for a good pair of cowboy boots), but my first balloon ride was so exhilarating, it made all the effort worthwhile. After graduation, I couldn't bear to leave the ballooning, where I was also working on obtaining my private pilot's license - I love an adventurous challenge! To accommodate work at the ballooning company, I worked a midnight to 7 a.m. job as a computer production artist and then color researcher for a start-up company that digitally colorized old black and white films. I was sleepless in San Diego!
During that time, I passed my written, oral, and flight test and officially became a private pilot - limited to balloons with on-board heaters. Shortly thereafter, life changed direction when I got married and soon quit both jobs, as I struggled through almost 9 months of debilitating morning sickness. However, the joy of seeing my son for the first time ameliorated any suffering I endured. When I saw that sweet creature staring back at me with those huge blue eyes, I was smitten. I agonized about going back to work. I didn't want to leave my sweet boy. I even won 1st place in the Johnson’s Baby “Adorable Babies Photo Contest” for a picture I took of my son. I decided to take a correspondence course in medical transcription so I could work from home. When my son was a year, I went to work in a hospital a few days a week for a couple of years to master the transcription while my mother-in-law watched my precious cargo. I worked in a mental-health hospital, so some days were...well...like the day I was quite visibly pregnant with my second child when a patient I'd never met got down on one knee on the patio and asked me to marry him...while other days made me cry at my desk as I transcribed some of the most horrific life stories imaginable. I have the utmost compassion for those whose lives take them for a stay in a psych hospital. There are some fragile souls out there who have been horrifically abused. Remember that the next time you walk by a homeless person. It's no mystery at all why some people suffer from mental illness or turn to alcohol, drugs, and self-destruction.
A few months after my second was born (a sweet baby girl!), my husband was offered a promotion, and we made the move from San Diego to Atlanta. I know, I know...who could leave San Diego? Sometimes you get an offer that's hard to refuse, so off to Atlanta we went. I.Miss.The.Beach.
It was hard getting that much farther from my stepdaughter who was in Washington, but at least she was only one nonstop flight away versus the two we usually had to navigate to get to her. Ten months after arriving in Atlanta, my third was born, another precious baby girl. I think you can see where this is going. I was an early adopter of telecommuting from home. I squeezed in the medical transcription a few hours a day (some days up to five hours), as well as being a full-time stay-at-home mom caring for my husband and three kids, ages 4, 20 months, and newborn. Can you say multitask? Whew! It was more than a full-time job.
Those were some blurry years with little to no sleep; but, I loved working from home so I could be flexible for the family. I took plenty of photographs, mostly of my children.When my youngest reached high school, I left the transcription. I was over it, though it had served the family well. I met some awesome people along the way, one of whom was my employer for many years. I learned valuable skills and realized the depth of my own resourcefulness - no IT department when the computer crashes. Somewhere in between I learned how to build websites, and I had my own blog that I kept up with every day for about a year and a half. After leaving transcription, I went after a writing job and was happy to land a remote position writing content for an education website. After six months, they asked me to become an editor as well. I worked that job for almost two years - a fantastic way to learn the ropes in the world of web-content writing. The standards were exacting, and there was quite a bit of research involved. I had to adhere to strict guidelines with the writing, and the editing followed an in-house style manual, similar to the AP. I got a small Kodak digital camera from my husband and worked it to death, beginning to understand the digital world of photography.
Unfortunately, I was in a bad place personally. As my children became independent, it was clear that something was amiss in my marriage. Years of tolerating emotional abandonment and abuse, in addition to the everyday stress, sapped my creativity and my energy. My passion for photography and writing was buried under piles of laundry, child-rearing, housework, working, and marital difficulties. I lost myself. I told my husband I was burned out and needed a change. He agreed. The next day, I gave my two-week notice. For the next 10 months, I met my goal of 2000 words per day on my fledgling novel. I wrote almost 300 pages. But, my marriage was in trouble. I had no idea how much. Stumbling onto the truth was like turning a key in a lock. The door opened, and I could see everything clearly. Everything. I threw the novel in a drawer. The divorce happened swiftly as my youngest navigated her senior year of high school. I will always be sad that she had to deal with divorce at a time that should have been happy and carefree. I tried my best to spare her and the other kids, though there's no way to completely limit the damage of betrayal and a family in dissolution. For that, I carry a sadness, but it's so amazing now to watch my young adults coming into their own and doing it well. The cliche "having been hit by a truck" springs to mind - it's an apt descriptor for divorce. My life was turned upside down. The first year was a whirlwind of moving (twice!) and trying to find a new rhythm for my life. I have been figuring out who I am, where I'm going and how best to get on with my life. Most importantly for this particular moment, I’ve made the decision to sell my fine-art prints!
My art photography obsesses me - getting the shot that I envision with the right light, the right angle. I like to bring out the extraordinary within the ordinary and look for the things that most people pass by on a day-to-day basis without actually seeing. I have shots of all sorts of local Atlanta scenery, and I'm happy to work on getting that specific shot you want to hang over your couch or in the hallway, bedroom, office or hotel room. I love to write and am enjoying getting the blog on this site up and running...I'm putting this all together, and I'm optimistic. I'm excited about this new phase of my life and looking forward to making this all work.
I came across a quote this morning that resonated deeply with me, and I'll leave you with that:
In the hour of adversity be not without hope
For crystal rain falls from black clouds - Persian poem
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